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The Global Women's Rights Movement: Power Politics around the United Nations and the World Social Forum

1 Aug 2006



This paper examines the discourse, inputs and reorganization of strategies that emanated from the lobbying of women’s rights movements vis-à-vis global agencies like the United Nations (UN), as well as the World Social Forum.

Some key strategic questions are set out for consideration: How much have women’s movements achieved by working in collaboration with the UN? Is there a recognizable global women’s rights movement as it is perceived on the UN stage? Is there such an entity as a global women’s movement, or is it just a skillfully played mirage?

This paper seeks to answer these questions based on her experience as a feminist researcher and activist involved in women’s rights issues, as well as through reference to the literature and ongoing debates. The essay is a contribution to these heated debates: about the role of global agencies; their effects on the autonomy, legitimacy and representation of social movements; and their local impacts and actual benefits for women around the globe.

Wendy Harcourt is Editor of Development, the flagship journal of the Society for International Development (SID), Rome, Italy.

Order PP CSSM 25 from UNRISD, 32 pages, 2006; US$ 12 for readers in industrialized countries and US$ 6 for readers in developing and transitional countries and for students.